Going vegetarian for Gandhi Jayanti

October 2, 2012

My Indian friends have assured me beyond all reasonable doubt that it is not novel to write that India’s liquor sales stop by law on Gandhi Jayanti, the national holiday celebrating the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi. What was more interesting to me was a note that I read online on Tuesday from my friend Anoo Bhuyan:

“Today at a supermarket, I saw that the entire freezer section was covered in newspaper. A sign on it said, ‘Due to Gandhi Jayanthi,’ non veg not for sales.” (She was in southern India, which accounts for the “h” in “Jayanthi.”)

I wrote back to her: “And yes – have you seen this kind of thing before? Is it normal or widespread? That is, if I mentioned it, would every Indian reader say, ‘yes, of course?'”

She and a few other people I spoke to said that unlike liquor, stopping the sale of meat on Gandhi’s birthday is a matter of choice.

For me, it raises yet another of my questions that provoke anything from annoyance to rage among some of the people who are compelled to listen to me: why would you stop selling meat or non-vegetarian foods on this one day?  I understand that Gandhi is widely quoted (though I have not found a definitive version of this) as saying that you can get the measure of a society or a civilization based on how it treats its animals. I’m unaware of the context of the statement, though Gandhi was a vegetarian.

That leaves me with curious thoughts: was the store’s action an attempt to keep its owners good with the spirit of the father of the Indian nation? Or was it a move directed at other people, an attempt to get strangers to show some respect? Or was there another reason to do this? And as I asked before: if you’re going to do it one day a year, why not do it on the other 364 days?



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Depends on your ideological leanings. Doesn’t it? Gandhi was known, and later criticised, for staining the freedom movement with hints of saffron. It is not unusual, therefore, if someone chooses to interpret Gandhi as a non-aloholic, vegetarian and selectively promote his values. After-all he was the father of the nation, we ought cling to at least some ideas of his, however distorted. It was Gandhi Jayanti and people simbly paid their reverence in whatever weird ways they could.

Posted by PopoDanderfluff | Report as abusive

I am not a Gandhi enthusiast myself nor a believer in Non Violence but your argument about the choice or decision of not selling non vgetarian food is baseless.Its not just Gandhi Jayanti but every other Tuesday or Thursday large chunk of the general populace avoid non-vegetarian food.No demand so no sale.I think there are many more important things to be written about.An article on this topic DOESN’T deserve any space on a platform like this.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Thanks for that comment. I guess the bottom line is: I can dig it. It’s actually quite a liberal idea to pay your respects in whatever way works for you, isn’t it?

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Thanks, Arijit. I made no argument. I asked questions, and you answered them. That’s why I posted in this platform. I also appreciate your sharing your opinion on the value of me asking these questions.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive